Posted in At Home, At Homeschool, Blog

Homeschool or Housekeeping?

Homeschool or housekeeping? Does it have to be a mutually exclusive choice?

At my home, I am embarrassed to admit that the answer is a resounding “Yes!” It is most definitely a choice between keeping the house clean (at least to a “company” standard) and educating my children (to my ideal standard).

I can’t seem to do both. I tend to alternate between the two. When school is going well, and our routine is really working, I look around and realize that it is time to work housecleaning into the schedule. Before I know it, my focus has become housecleaning, and the homeschool starts to decline in quality. Then it’s time for me to create a new homeschool routine. But wait! The house! It’s just a never-ending pendulum.

We were in the homeschool side of this pendulum for the past couple of months, but now that we are thinking of selling,  I have been cleaning and cleaning the house, getting it ready to sell. My husband has been renovating the kitchen, so we’ve been having a lot of takeout. I have been painting walls while I let the children work with less direction than usual. And we have managed to maintain a bare minimum of homeschool studies — Encyclopedia is completely on track in his Math and Spelling, and Safari has somehow managed to progress from a sounder-outer to a real reader over this past month. And we do History together as a read-aloud and discussion, without getting into crafts and messy activities or heavy-duty planning.

And what about the other subjects? Well… what other subjects? We just don’t have time for anything else right now. The kids spend the rest of their day reading…

Hudson reading

…or playing outside…


…or just creating chaos…

Encyclo teaching Shiny how to climb in and out of her crib
The boys teaching Shiny Boots how to climb in and out of her crib

But all this cleaning while my children are otherwise occupied has made me realize that I have failed in teaching my children to help me with the housework. I think this must be the key to keeping house and school running simultaneously and smoothly. I am going to have to work on this — only not while I’m painting. I don’t think they’re ready to help me with that!

How do you manage your home and your school at once? So many people seem to have the energy for both. I see their blogs and their Pinterest pages, and I’m just not sure that they’re the same kind of human as me.



Christian wife and homeschooling mother of five children, ages 2 through 10 years. Recently diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos. Trusting in Jesus for His plan for my life, and for my family. He was gracious to save my husband and myself 6 and 7 years ago, respectively. And really, He saved me just in time. Because how could I ever have handled this illness without Him?

10 thoughts on “Homeschool or Housekeeping?

    1. Thanks! my toddler loves playing in the shoes, so I gave her the responsibility of putting all the shoes away in the front entrance. It is only fitting, since it is usually her that has pulled out everyone’s shoes, anyway!


  1. I could have written this post. And not just about homeschooling, but anything. It seems that my focus is so narrow. I often feel I am capable of really getting just one thing right at a time.

    So I choose what to focus on day by day. If I’m in a cleaning or organized kind of mood, that’s what I spend my day doing. As for homeschool, I have some leeway since mine are little. I just ask them to help and turn everything into learning. Count the clothes while they go in the dryer,” I have 10 shirts if I put 6 in the dryer how many are left.” That sort of thing. You have older children, so you would need to get more creative. But it’s how I use my tunnel vision to my advantage instead of letting it feel like a fail. Which is a unhealthy place to be as a homemaker, we are in the home every day right beside the people we love doing our best to care for them. That’s incredible and it’s all too easy to see what we don’t do.


    1. Yes, my focus is narrow, too. I have a hard time with it, even in school. It is hard for me to focus on multiple subjects at once. When we started homeschooling, we did just Reading, then just History all day for a time, then just Astronomy. We did everything in blocks. But as my children have gotten older, I know that they need to do some things every single day, like Reading and Math. So we’ve learned to do Math first thing (right after Bible time), and then to do Reading. I split Reading up into three categories, and we only focus on one at a time — like, a few weeks on Spelling, a few weeks on Grammar, a few weeks on Reading Comprehension. That helps me a lot. And then, in the afternoon, we do things that don’t have to be done every day. And I do them in blocks. So the focus is on History for a term, then on Science for a term. We also alternate between French, Art Appreciation, Drawing, & Music. We just focus on one for a while, and then, when our interest wanes, it’s time to move on to the next. This helps me a lot.

      I love how you incorporate the everyday tasks into learning. I tend to be too focused on getting things done in a hurry to spend the necessary time to have them doing it with me — but I need to, because they need to learn how to help!

      I am beginning to realize how much it helps to delegate small tasks, like even moving clothes from the washer to the dryer. My kids are too short to reach the washer, but if I take clothing out and pass it to them, they’re happy to toss them in the dryer for me — and it sets a good expectation for help from them. Thanks!


  2. I love how you explain the process that I’ve been living for the past 13 years! It’s one or the other for me too. I’ve always tagged myself as a poor manager because I couldn’t get quality work out of them when I was otherwise engaged. The house will always be there… Once you’re finished with selling you can get back to focused learning again. No worries.


  3. Okay, this is an area that I love! Honestly, I love figuring out a way to keep house clean and homeschool at the same time. I grew up with homeschoolers and they always seemed to be disorganized and messy … so I was determined to to find a happy medium – messy enough in the house to know we live here and are having a life, but not too messy that we can’t live our homeschooling life and enjoy it!
    We start the girls with a chore chart (chore cards, too) when they are three and with each year, new responsibilities are added. The girls now help with washing dishes, putting them away, cleaning the kitchen after every meal, washing floors, vacuuming, sweeping, clean their cubbies, hang laundry, putting away laundry, managing their pets and cleaning their cages, cleaning bathrooms and even the odd organizing task. They all have one major chore in the morning before we start school, sometimes two, depending on the course of the day.
    If we have guests coming over in the afternoon, we usually do the morning chore and afternoon chore (afternoon would be a longer chore, like cleaning bedroom or vacuuming/dusting). If we start with a somewhat clean house, it seems to make the day easier. This also leaves more time for free play in the afternoon.
    I have a saying, for example that if one person leaves their shoes at the door, it’s not a big deal. Two people … not so bad … but have five, six, seven, or eight people all leave their shoes at the door, it’s a huge mess! So everybody needs to clean up as they go. It makes like simpler and easier to manage the cleaning.
    We also use a reward system (not money yet) with marbles. I can explain that more later if you want. I feel like this comment is super long so I’ll stop now! Hah!
    But be encouraged! Children make messes, life is messy, homeschooling is messy …. order is good but not if it stresses you out to create a cranky mom … (I’ve learned that the hard way!) …


    1. Thanks so much for this. I would love to hear more about the day-to-day routine, and what kind of chores your various-aged children do and when in the day. I feel like I really could use a mentor in this. It is a real struggle for me. I would also love to hear about your marble reward system. I remember being at your home once, when I dropped something off in your kitchen. You had just had a baby, and I marveled at how tidy and organized everything was. I would love it if you did a post on this, to mentor those of us who aren’t so good at it!


  4. Okay, sure … I’ll think of how to explain it in a post … might be a long winded one … but it works for our family … so maybe it will work for another family?!
    Be encouraged! Life is messy and half of the memories we remember involve messes! Just have to teach our children that clean up time should follow! 🙂 🙂 🙂


    1. Thanks! I don’t mean to put pressure on you, just a request if you have the time/inclination to do it. I know you could do a great post on that topic!


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